Monday, August 11, 2008

2008 College Football Conference Predictions: Mid-American Conference

The big story in the MAC in 2008 will be Central Michigan seeking its 3rd consecutive conference title. But this could very well be the most exciting and competitive season that those in the upper midwest have seen in this conference in quite some time, possibly ever. 9 of the Top 10 signal callers, 9 of the Top 10 receiving leaders, and 5 of the Top 7 running backs in the league from last season are all back for '08. The headliner in the league is Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour (2nd quarterback in NCAA history to throw for 3,000 yards passing and also rush for 1,000 yards in one season. Texas' Vince Young was the other guy.) But don't sleep on a few other key returning players, most notably the Ball State QB and WR tandem of Nate Davis and Dante Love, as well as Ball State TE Darius Hill, and Kent State RB Eugene Jarvis. Northern Illinois DE Larry English and Miami Ohio LB Clay Mullins are the top returning defensive players.

I'd love to go out on a limb and say that somebody knocks Central Michigan off the perch this year, but I can't go against the two-time defending MAC Champs. Central Michigan is the pick to win the league again this year. I actually believe that Western Michigan has the best talent in the league across the board, but trips to Central Michigan and Ball State toward the latter half of the season are not favorable. Bowling Green starts the season with a tough non-conference slate, but avoids Western Michigan, Ball State, and Central Michigan in the conference slate, getting both Miami OH and Kent State at home. That schedule just might get them through the regular season conference slate unscathed, but asking the Falcons to knock off the Chippewas in a Championship Game that they've owned the past 2 years, is too much to ask. As many as 6 teams in the conference could battle for bowl bids this season.

Eastern Division
1. Bowling Green Falcons (Predicted Regular Season Conference Finish: 8-0, Predicted Regular Season Overall Finish: 8-4)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Minnesota 9/6
Key Conference Game: vs Miami OH 10/18
Key Players: WR Freddie Barnes, LB John Haneline

2. Miami OH Redhawks: (6-2, 8-4)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Vanderbilt 8/28
Key Conference Game: at Bowling Green 10/18
Key Players: OG Dave DiFranco, LB Clayton Mullins

3. Kent State Golden Flashes (5-3, 7-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Louisiana-Lafayette 9/20
Key Conference Game: at Buffalo 11/28
Key Players: RB Eugene Jarvis, LB Derek Burrell

4. Buffalo Bulls (3-5, 3-9)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs UTEP 8/28
Key Conference Game: vs Kent State 11/28
Key Players: RB James Starks, DT Ronald Hilaire

5. Temple Owls (3-5, 4-8)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Army 8/28
Key Conference Game: at Buffalo 9/15
Key Players: C Alex Derenthal, DT Andre Neblett

6. Ohio Bobcats (1-7, 2-10)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Northwestern 9/20
Key Conference Game: at Temple 10/21
Key Players: TE David Carter, CB Mark Person

7. Akron Zips (0-8, 1-11)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Army 9/20
Key Conference Game: at Eastern Michigan 10/18
Key Players: OT Chris Kemme, DE Almondo Sewell

Western Division
1. Central Michigan Chippewas (8-0, 9-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Indiana 11/1
Key Conference Game: vs Ball State 11/19
Key Players: QB Dan LeFevour, DT Casey Droscha
Note: It is certainly worth mentioning that Central Michigan visit Athens on September 6th. While nobody thinks that the Chippewas have the horsepower to pull off the upset, I don't see it out of the realm that this offense could make the Dawgs work on defense for a little while.

2. Ball State Cardinals (7-1, 10-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Indiana 9/20
Key Conference Game: at Central Michigan 11/19
Key Players: QB Nate Davis, LB Bryant Haines

3. Western Michigan Broncos (6-2, 8-4)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Illinois (Detroit)
Key Conference Game: at Central Michigan 10/18
Key Players: WR Jamarko Simmons, CB London Fryar

4. Northern Illinois Huskies (2-6, 3-9)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Navy 11/25
Key Conference Game: vs Toledo 10/18
Key Players: RB Justin Anderson, DE Larry English

5. Toledo Rockets (2-6, 3-9)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Florida International 9/27
Key Conference Game: at Northern Illinois 10/18
Key Players: WR Stephen Williams, LB Lester Richmond

6. Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-7, 2-10)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Army 10/11
Key Conference Game: vs Akron 10/18
Key Players: OT T.J. Lang, LB Daniel Holtzclaw

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